Author: Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, poet, peace activist, was known as the “father of mindfulness” and was a major influence on Western practices of Buddhism.
The meaning behind the title is that without mud, the beautiful lotus flower cannot grow. This is an analogy of life—without pain or suffering, there cannot be happiness.
If you haven’t suffered hunger you can’t appreciate having something to eat. If you haven’t gone through war, you don’t know the value of peace.
When we learn to acknowledge, embrace, and understand our suffering, we suffer much less.
Not only that, but we’re also able to go further and transform our suffering into understanding, compassion, and joy.
The suffering of the body includes pain, illness, and injury. Some of this suffering is unavoidable. The suffering of the mind is anxiety, jealousy, fear, anger.
Every kind of suffering manifests somewhere in the body and creates tension and stress.
An injured animal finds a quiet place and just lies down, doing nothing. She instinctively knows that stopping is the best way to get healed.
Man used to have this kind of wisdom but we lost touch with it. We don’t know how to rest. We rely on medication for relief from our physical pain.
We try to cover up our internal suffering with all kinds of consumption and distractions. We run away from the suffering.
TRANSFORMING SUFFERING INTO HAPPINESS:
1. STOP RUNNING FROM OURSELVES 2. MAKE PEACE WITH OUR SUFFERING 3. LET GO OF OUR COWS 4. DON’T RELEASE THE SECOND ARROW 5. NURTURE HAPPINESS EVERY DAY
1. STOP RUNNING
Come home to ourselves. Acknowledge our suffering. The way to understand is to listen to ourselves.
2. MAKE PEACE WITH OUR SUFFERING
Embrace suffering like a Mom with a crying baby. The suffering is trying to get your attention, and now you can take the opportunity to listen.
When we embrace our suffering it starts to heal. You can explore what kind of roots it has and what has been feeding your sorrow.
3. LET GO OF OUR COWS
Story of the Buddha and his monks encountering a farmer desperately looking for his lost cows: He had also lost his crop to an infestation of insects. He said to the Buddha, “I think I am going to kill myself. I have lost everything!” After the farmer had gone, the Buddha looked at his monks and smiled and said, “My dear friends, do you know that you are lucky, you do not have any cows to lose.”
What Thich Nhat meant by the word “cow,” is something that you think is essential for your happiness: a certain job, house, money, status, a relationship. But when you get it you’re still not happy, and you continue to suffer.
Ask yourself: is this “cow” really necessary for my well-being and happiness?
If we find out that it creates more anxiety and fear, then we will be able to find the strength to let it go.
4. DON’T RELEASE THE SECOND ARROW
There is a Buddhist teaching called The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain. The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event. If we get carried away in fear, anger, and despair, we only magnify our pain. The question is whether you can avoid shooting the second arrow.
5. NURTURE HAPPINESS EVERY DAY
Practice letting go Practice mindful breathing Practice mindful walking Practice sitting meditation
Morning verse for happiness:
Waking up this morning I smile I have 24 hours to live. I vow to live them deeply and learn to look at beings around me with eyes of compassion
Dan Tien Your Secret Energy Center by Christopher Markert
Dan Tien in Chinese is in the same location as it is described in Japanese, Hara. In his book, he talks about his own journey on finding the ancient Chinese knowledge about Dan-Tien. The ancient script describes it as “the best place in the body”, it also refers to it as One-Point.
“Taoist teachings reaching back four to five thousand years tell in great detail how to be in touch with the center of vitality and joy, and how to use it as a link with the cosmic power Chi.”
In his personal journal he recalls a pivotal moment.
“When I first explained all this to a friend yesterday, she asked if I had no ambitions or social conscience. Did I want to vegetate in my little world of navel contemplations? On the contrary, I said, I am now more aware than ever of other people’s feelings and needs, simply because I understand myself better. And my life has become more adventurous and colorful since I discovered Dan-Tien. Above all, I have learned to enjoy every minute. My life now has meaning, it makes sense, and I have access to the life force.” Their conversation ended with her strong disagreement and disbelief. “My answers were too simple, she said. A few years ago I had thought so myself. Even now I can hardly believe that life can be so simple, rewarding, and enjoyable.” I wondered about how I know that I have found my alignment within. In the chapter of Our Normal and Natural Condition he explains that “The quality of our life really depends on the quality of our feelings about ourselves and the world at any given moment. Our world looks unpleasant or ugly wherever we lose touch with our Dan-Tien. The same world can be full of love and sunshine when we are centered again.” He shares his ideas and meditation practices throughout the book, it is an insightful introduction to Dan-Tien.
Nick shared a poem called “November 3rd” by Miyazawa Kenji.
Neither yielding to rain nor yielding to wind yielding neither to snow nor to summer heat with a stout body like that without greed never getting angry always smiling quietly eating one and a half pieces of brown rice and bean paste and a bit of vegetables a day in everything not taking oneself into account looking listening understanding well and not forgetting living in the shadow of pine trees in a field in a small hut thatched with miscanthus if in the east there’s a sick child going and nursing him if in the west there is a tired mother going and for her carrying bundles of rice if in the south there’s someone dying going and saying you don’t have to be afraid if in the north there’s a quarrel or a lawsuit saying it’s not worth it stop it in a drought shedding tears in a cold summer pacing back and forth lost called a good-for-nothing by everyone neither praised nor thought a pain someone like that is what I want to be
Luke shared his recent reading and learning of Tibetan dream yoga. He read the book ” The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep” by Tenzin Wangyal. We had a great discussion about dreams. Raphael also shared a book, “Limitless” by Jim Kwik. You can see Raphael’s ikebana and haiku in this post.
During a winter Sesshin in Dallas last year in December, I was partaking in a tea ceremony with my group. This was a journal from my experience.
During the tea ceremony, I was holding a very small cup … the tea server poured the tea inside my cup … everything was done in a very mindful and graceful manner. Bowing and serving then bowing .
As I looked at the green tea, I started to imagine the labor of love that went into the production of the tea… from the farmers growing the tea, harvesting, selling and preparing for the community.
I touched the cup and felt the warmth on my hands. I smelled the natural aroma rising from the tea. Inhaling and feeling the goodness of it exhaling and letting go of all my negative thoughts.
I started sipping the tea… introduced myself to it …getting to know it… the mild and bitter taste as it touched my mouth …
I heard myself as I swallow each sip of the tea… I kept sipping slowly … every sipping has its distinct sound …
to my surprise … I felt as if there was plenty of tea in the small cup… I kept drinking but there was always more in the cup… it was a cup that just kept on giving … as though it was never empty.. I felt such an abundance!
I felt full from drinking from the cup! Was the cup ever empty? Was it empty or full ? Am I still talking about the cup or my tummy? I do not know. I do not know yet I continue to smile as I am recalling this one with the tea!